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Legal Covering Letters


Correct letter writing is very important, it shows how good your use of the English language is and many employers can put a lot of emphasis on this.

Firstly you must ensure that the salutation and ending of your letter is correct. For example if you have been asked to apply to Mr I Davis for a position your letter should start with “Dear Mr Davis” and the letter should be ended with “Yours sincerely” the “s” in sincerely must be a small “s” not a capital “s”.

If the position you are applying for has no contact name the letter should be commenced with “Dear Sir/Madam” and should be ended with “Yours faithfully”, again the “f” in faithfully should be in lower case.

Where the contact is female and advertised with a name, for example Laura Watkins, it is more difficult to address the salutation as you do not know whether she is married or single. To address her as “Dear Laura” would be far too informal so what can you do? A good idea would be to contact the company in question and ask them how Laura Watkins prefers to be addressed. This may be either Miss, Mrs or Ms. Again with all of these salutations the ending of the letter must be with “Yours sincerely”. If you are told to address her as “Dear Madam” the ending must be “Yours faithfully”. The phone number may be advertised in the job advertisement but if not just give directory enquiries (118118) a quick ring or if you don’t want to pay for the call just look up the companies details on the internet.

What do you do if the advertisement says “Apply to L Watkins?”. Is it Mr/Mrs/Miss – how are you going to address the letter – Dear Sir/Madam/Mr Watkins/Mrs Watkins. No! Again just give the company a quick ring, it only takes a couple of minutes and you will be sorted in no time, the chances are you will be one of the only candidates to bother and this shows initiative and may make you stand out from the rest – something you want to do when you are trying to get an interview. I sometimes think that companies do this on purpose to see who has the initiative to work this out! Sometimes advertisements will just say Reply to “The Personnel Department” along with a PO Box address. There is little you can do about this so the best thing to do is to address the letter to “Dear Sir/Madam” and finish the letter with “Yours faithfully”.

It may be that you haven’t seen a job advertised by a company but you are randomly choosing businesses to write off to in order to establish whether they have any vacancies in your particular field. This can be very hard work and often produces little return but should you find an employer who is looking to fill a vacancy then you may be one of the first to be considered. Many employers also keep CV’s on file should a position arise in the future which they feel you may be suitable for. If you are taking this route it’s always a good idea to find out the name of the person. Generally speaking someone is more likely to read a letter that is personally addressed, rather than addressed to say the “Head Of Personnel” or “Managing Director”. In any case these letters rarely reach the destination you want them to because they get intercepted beforehand. Again, the best thing to do is to ring up the company beforehand and find out either; who is responsible for recruitment or, if the business is a small business, who is the Managing Director. The phone numbers can be obtained from either Directory Enquiries 118118 or by using the internet.

So remember the golden rules:

If the letter is addressed to Dear Mr James, Dear Miss James, Dear Mrs James, Dear Ms James the letter should be ended with "Yours sincerely" and make sure sincerely has a small "s".

If the letter is addressed to Dear Sir, Dear Madam, Dear Sir/Madam then the letter should be ended with "Yours faithfully" again using a small "f" for faithfully.

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